50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can't Be Wrong
Elvis' Gold records - Volume 2
EIN In-depth FTD Deluxe CD review
From its sensational LP cover to its string of chart-topping singles '50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can't Be Wrong' is an outright Elvis - and pop music- classic.
Released for Christmas 1959 the ten original LP tracks all positively burst out with 1950’s exuberance but with only ten tracks taken from just five singles it only reached a lowly #31 in the US charts. It could almost be seen as The Colonel's first marketing error!
However this deluxe FTD also includes 3 bonus Master tracks, masses of outtakes and with some stunning audio upgrades it provides hours of ROCKIN' entertainment.
Having bought this album several times before, EIN's Piers Beagley digs deep to find out what new delights are in store.
Elvis’ Gold Records - Volume 2, from its sensational LP cover (the best since Elvis’ first album) to its string of chart topping singles is an outright Elvis, and pop music, classic.
Released for Christmas 1959 and with Elvis away in the army all the songs were over a year old and had been recent chart successes. With only ten tracks taken from just five singles (verses 'Golden Records Vol.1' fourteen tracks from nine singles) Elvis’ Gold Records - Volume 2 reached a lowly #31 in the US charts.
With tracks such as ‘My Baby Left Me’, ‘Hard Headed Woman’ and ‘Don’t Ask Me Why’ as obvious potential extras that could have been used, was this The Colonel’s first missed opportunity?
Released in England six months later as 'Elvis' Golden Records - Volume 2' with a better selection of 14 tracks (Loving You, Teddy Bear, Jailhouse Rock & Treat Me Nice were all added as they had been left off the UK’s first ‘Golden Records’ album) it made a very respectable #4 in the charts.
However with the 3 bonus Master tracks and 145 minutes of listening pleasure this FTD certainly provides great value for money.
Listening to the ten original LP tracks, a string of classic hits, they all positively burst out with 1950’s exhuberance, ‘My Wish Came True’ the only song sounding more like album material.
Audio engineer Kevan Budd has worked hard on these tapes as there was always an strange sub-bass hum to the June 1958 Nashville recordings. The outtakes we have previously heard on the BMG 1990 CD release ‘Essential Elvis Vol.3 - HITS like never before’ have a smoother sound here with less bass-end distortion and more ‘middle range’. Kevan has worked the same formula to improve the Masters over the ‘50s box-set’ versions. Similarly the unnecessary echo added elsewhere is gone (ie on ‘Today, Tomorrow & Forever’ box-set) plus we get all the extra studio eavesdropping on this all-important session.
If you need convincing compare the dreadfully thin and crackly acetate of ‘Doncha’ Think It’s Time’ on 'T, T & F' box-set to the outstandingly upgraded version here. You will not believe it is from the same source.
The first CD positively rocks along with the two ballads showcasing Elvis’ fabulous vocal range. The three bonuses Masters here are, ‘Your Cheatin’ Heart’, ‘Ain’t That Loving You Baby’ and the differently edited single version ‘Doncha’ Think It’s Time’ which are great inclusions before we get to the outtakes.
Another positive is at last getting the true single Master of ‘A Big Hunk O’ Love’ which has the original Master take 3/4 piano solo splice. Of late BMG has been releasing Take 3 with its lesser piano solo as the single on various hits compiles. (The recent number 1 compile ‘The King’ at last fixed this mistake.)
The main focus of this package is of course Elvis’ final session on June 10th 1958. The fascination is that both Scotty Moore and Bill Black had quit over a pay-dispute and Elvis was working with new band members Hank Garland and Bob Moore, both would later play on all of Elvis’ 1960 sessions. Floyd Cramer was also there adding some stunning piano riffs. This was also the first time that drummer Buddy Harman would join D.J Fontana to create that sensational dual drummer rythym. Their work here would really add that extra punch to all these five great 1958 tracks, everyone of them ending up as singles.
From this one night in June the second CD features multiple outtakes of ‘I Need Your Love Tonight’ and ‘I Got Stung’. With so much pressure on Elvis to lay down new material before he entered the army it is unbelievable how he strived for perfection when several of the earlier outtakes would have been fine as singles. Overall what you notice is the energy and great spirit in the room.
The studio banter between outtakes lets us hear the great cammeraderi and laughter as they continue to search for the perfect master. It’s also hard to imagine Elvis recording all this stunning rock’n’roll while wearing his army uniform. Just 4 days later Elvis would return to the army.
(Right: Elvis recording in army uniform, from the FTD booklet)
The cover and booklet are nicely presented with a good selection of memorabilia such as original tape boxes and newspaper clippings. We get some alternate shots from the gold lame suit photo session, and I love the Feb ’57 tape-box with the hand written notification "Very old: Very delicate MASTER tape with lots of splices" as well as the very obvious in red "This is The MASTER" note on the tape-box of ‘Don’t’. This demonstrates how the master of ‘Don’t’ was cut from the session tape, that was sadly then lost forever. Sometimes I wish that you could see all the information rather than the overlapping look as on the ‘Wear My Ring’ info it says "Guitar back be….." presumably about Elvis’ overdub, I wonder what the rest said.
(Right: More of the Gold Lame suit photo session)
Apart from all the multiple outtakes of the June session on CD2 we also get the bonus of the ‘Elvis Sails’ E.P. that was released in December 1958. This nicely adds some of Elvis’ own thoughts of 1958 to the historical session, including topics such as about...
- Nearly getting married earlier in his life - "My first record saved my neck."
- His Mother who had recently died, "I could wake her any hour of the night if I was troubled."
- Juvenile controversy - "There are people that are going to like you, and people that don’t like you regardless of what business you are in or what you do. You cannot please everyone."
Short Verdict: Eighty-Eight tracks, 144 minutes focussing on one of Elvis' most important recording sessions. If you love Elvis - and you love rock’n’roll - this classic FTD with its deluxe booklet and 2 CDs at a single CD price, what more could one ask for? Buy It!
Digging deeper to see what’s new.
(As it is very likely that we have all bought this classic album several times before)
DISC 1 -
‘Wear My Ring Around Your Neck’
This undubbed Master is fascinating as Elvis did not want this song released until he had personally added both piano and guitar-slap back beat overdubs. Comparing the two versions
you know he was right. While the guitar-slap is obvious, it is actually Elvis’ background boogie-woogie piano (don’t be fooled as Dudley Brooks also played the staccato piano on the original take) that fills out the sound all the way through. Check out how the early verses sound very austere without it. The boy sure knew what he was doing!
‘Doncha' Think It's Time’
All the new unreleased versions have come from acetates discovered 7 years ago.
As these are all later takes the arrangement doesn’t change but it’s fun listening to Elvis mix up the "Kiss me honey"/"Love me honey" lyrics on each take.
Take 48 was featured on ‘T, T & F’ box-set but sounded dreadful. Audio restorer Kevan Budd has worked wonders to make every acetate featured here sound amazing.
On Take 39 Elvis drifts off the melody @ 01.30 while it is interesting to hear Take 40 in full since it was used as part splice in both released versions. On Take 40 there is a great "ah, ha ha" @ 01.37 and Elvis mixes the lyric again which possibly throws him since he then sounds a little unsure at the end.
Take 3 - Has been incorrectly used as the single on multiple BMG compiles but it is still a stunner with Elvis really getting with the band, "Oh,no,no,no,no,no" @ 00:59.
'A Big Hunk O' Love'
A total classic and laid down in just four takes.
Take 1 – A great first take but lacking the punch of the master. Without guitar and the backing-vocal intro plus the delicate piano & different rhythm arrangement, this is a gem. Featured on ‘Essential Elvis Vol.3’ this has the added introduction of Elvis laughing at the start. Plus this has a great bass-mix and is without the peak audio distortion of the previous release.
Take 2 - As featured on the excellent FTD ‘Flashback’, pianist Floyd Cramer adds some burning rock’n’roll piano.
Take 4 – Now has Elvis commenting the appropriate "At ease!" before the start and is such a rocking version with the wild piano solo complete with Ray Walker’s deep-bass "no,no,no"s that was edited into Take 3 to create the single release.
‘Ain’t That Loving You Baby’
Changing the tempo halfway through the eleven takes before they finally gave up, makes this one of Elvis' most intriguing session songs. Sounding like a funkier revisit to 1956's 'Money Honey' it's a real shame that RCA never released it while Elvis was in the army. (Right: Sleeve from the eventual 1964 release)
Take 1 – A fabulous First Take even through Bob Moore's acoustic-bass doesn't have that final swing of the released Take 4. Once again sounding clearer than on ‘Essential Vol.3’ and with less compression. The unreleased takes 2 & 3 however show us little new with Take 2 abruptly ending after Elvis goofs on the lyrics.
Take 4 the slow "Master" does have the nice new touch of Elvis laughing and commenting, "Hey Red!" at the start. The previous bass overload has also been fixed too. Crank It Up!
Noting the change in tempo and decision to speed up the song, Elvis' comment "Boogie Chet" says it all. However with the tempo cranked up, Elvis then misses the start, "I got lost."
Unreleased Take 7 is a rockin' version that appears to be going fine until Hank Garland loses the way on his guitar solo with the tape abruptly being stopped. It is still a great new addition to our collection.
Take 8 (as on ‘Flashback’) is real fun, again with the guitar solo messing up and Elvis laughing and singing, "I'll be kissing your lips before the frog comes down!"
Take 9 - Although short this is another great addition showing the great feel of studio camaraderie at the start with the group clapping along to Bob Moore's bass. But then someone, presumably Chet Atkins trying to focus the band, interrupts rather seriously says, "Get ready, Come on!" Elvis then misses his lines after only 30 seconds but this is a nice touch of gold at work in the studio.
Take 10 - Also unreleased showcases the new piano arrangement and appears to be heading towards a Master. There's a terrific vibe with the accompanying handclaps and a rough solo but again it gets cut off abruptly.
Take 11 - As on ‘Essential Vol.3’ but with a smoother mix here, this was the closest they got to completing the song. Of course this should have been another 50s release but Elvis fluffs the final line. At this point they gave up and moved on.
The released complete "Up-tempo Master" from the RCA LP ‘Reconsider Baby’ was created from multiple takes. It is a real shame that it is not featured here.
Featuring 54 tracks including the ‘Elvis Sails’ EP, here are the highlights.
Unreleased Take 1 is a fabulous rough first version that already has a taste of the excitement of the final single and a burning guitar solo from Hank Garland. Although at a slightly slower tempo than the single, it's a gem that only fails because Elvis messes up the lyrics at the end.
I Need Your Love Tonight.
Elvis took 19 takes to get this to a Master, the majority of which have already been released spread across multiple compiles. The best outtakes were on ‘Platinum’ and ‘Essential Vol.3’ but here they have been improved.
While hearing all of them in a row might be a bit much for some, there are some very interesting re-arrangements of the song as they progress and a session like this certainly demonstrates how much of a perfectionist Elvis was. Even halfway through at Take 10 Elvis performs a cracker version that would have been worthy of being a single!
Once again Kevan Budd has discovered a new fascinating snippet, this time of Elvis and the band listening to the demo record before they start recording as Floyd Cramer works on the piano arrangement.
By Take 5 there is a new punchier prominent piano intro with Jordanaire Ray Walker's bass-line now prominently following Elvis' own lyric. This was the very first time that Ray Walker worked with Elvis and this was the very first song of the session! Although it goes to show the confidence Elvis working with Ray, his vocal on this take is a placed little too high in the mix to really blend properly.
By Take 6 & 7 the vocal blend is right with Elvis commenting "I felt that one" knowing that the vibe he wanted was there.
New Take 9 is intriguing for being one of those takes where the band messes up early on, tape overload renders it useless, and Elvis stutters @01.17 but they still continue to the end.
Take 10A (Essential Vol.3) is so good that Elvis could have stopped here. Elvis sings along and clicks his fingers while Ray Walker’s vocal counterpart really fits. Compared to the Single, the first middle-eight isn’t played as smoothly and the ending isn’t perfection, but who but Elvis would know that they could do better!
On Take 10B a new arrangement with bongos was introduced but was placed way too loud in the mix. The following Takes 12/13 (on ‘Flashback’) show the progression as they get the mix right and head towards the Master.
Take 14 unreleased is an interesting addition as by now these later takes are very similar to the Master. You have to listen very closely to guess why Elvis would reject these later takes. On this version perhaps that exciting vocal punch is missing and in places Elvis vocal sounds a little over-mannered.
Finally by Take 18 it's all there and Elvis has created that total magic. Elvis’ cheer mid-song surely says it all. In someway it's a revelation that the energy and excitement still come through after so many re-takes and such hard work.
'A Fool Such As I'
Another sensational number one single with a different feel and a great melody. Listen to Hank Snow’s original and Thank God for Elvis!
Unreleased Takes 1 & 2 soon both fall apart with Elvis laughing showing the fun and humour of the session.
Take 3 - The first complete version was always a classic. (Previously on ‘Essential Vol.3’) In a slower tempo, it has a very laid back vibe with Elvis coolly sliding around the vocals. Chet Atkins rhythm guitar drives the song and it’s a joy to listen to Bob Moore's acoustic-bass runs during the solo.
Takes 4 & 5 were on ‘Flashback’ and are close to the tempo & swing of the final arrangement although Elvis as sure with the lyrics. These are famous for Elvis' production comment, "Can you put me on a little more echo, Steve?"
Take 8 was chosen for release on 'Elvis 30 #1s' which has a great Elvis' vocal but Hank Garland messes up on the intro. In comparison the audio here matches the rest of the album whereas on 'Elvis 30 #1s' there was more compression with the audio tweaked to the max.
By Take 9 the Master, the Jordanaires had added clapping to the perfect guitar solo. This version has the bonus of the pre-take banter with Elvis teasingly adding, "Where?" to the statement "Here we go - Take 44 or something!"
With Elvis perhaps disturbed by the absence of Scotty & Bill it is interesting that ‘Fool Such As I’ was so effortless compared to the other songs of the session.
‘I Got Stung’
This fabulous single was the last of the night, the last song before Elvis’ return from the army and lasted through to the early hours of the morning with twenty-four takes.
Take 1 is again a great first take with Elvis sounding enthusiastic and excited. As featured on ‘Essential Vol.3’ it is a real oddity with Elvis changing at the end to "When Irish eyes are smiling." As Elvis fans we are really lucky to have this curiosity as now we can hear that the tape was abruptly stopped when Elvis changed tunes.
Takes 4 > 8 were all featured on 'Flashback' and capture Elvis in a fantastic & creative mood. "One More Time", "I like this song" he comments and it is great eavesdropping on the session as he keeps messing up.
Unreleased Take 10 prefixed by "We'll get it right this time, here we go" sadly goes off mid-song. But it’s nice and loose with a new guitar arrangement on the middle-eight, extended with more, "Ah, ha, ha"s from Elvis. Elvis knows this is never a master having a little laugh in his voice @ 01.35 but they still keep going to the end. Another fine addition.
Take 12 – Shows another step forward. "Shall we?" says Elvis.
There's a great fluff half-way through with Elvis @ 01.24 adding "yeah, yeah, I got stung - Ugh" It's a fantastic moment and creates a favourite with its excellent "I got stung, uh, uh, uh, uh" ending.
Take 13/14 (previously edited on 'E Vol.3') now has the fun line "Holy smoke, oh shit!" start and the great Elvis comment, "Better hurry up my brain is getting weaker every minute."
The full take 14 is another classic version as they get closer to the final arrangement. Chet Atkin’s new rhythm line is higher in the mix pushing the song along. The walking guitar arrangement with its chasing piano feel is excellent.
The later takes are close to the Master but by now Elvis' vocal sounds a little forced (Take 16) or someone goofs up.
Take 17 is another nice new addition with more studio banter. The Jordanaires get Elvis' fold-back level adjusted as Elvis adds the comment "Here's where we goof up" and asks for more time as he rehearses the first line. Even after 17 takes Elvis still sounds in good humour showing the patience & work ethic he sometimes had.
Take 18 is another bonus for having The Jordanaires almost absent from the mix! The song sounds very different with a more prominent rhythm mix while Elvis messes the words and becomes annoyed at himself commenting, "f**king shit!"
Take 20 features that great intro edited onto Take 1 on 'Essential Vol.3', "Ready on the right, ready on the left, ready on the firing line. Shit!" Nice to have complete and in context here. The take itself is close to the Master with the Jordanaires back up in the mix again.
On Take 23, the penultimate, there’s hilarity as Floyd Cramer messes up because he cannot see Elvis. He says to Ray walker who was blocking his view, "I had it figured out and as long as I could see what he (Elvis) was doing and now you've hold that paper up!" Ray Walker and everyone laughs, making it the perfect intro to the sensational Take 24 that would become the Master.
The single Master Take 24 (complete with count-in) is the absolute classic we know and it all sounds way too easy when you look back at all the work that had come before. It is an enticing history lesson for all Elvis collectors.
Long Verdict: This is not only Elvis musical history but also important in the history of Pop Music. Many artists never fully recover their momentum from enforced stints in the services and without the legacy of these five classic 1958 recordings RCA would have been hard-pressed to keep Elvis’ fan base as excited. While a lot of these outtakes have been previously released, the ones on ‘Essential Vol.3’ never sat well next to the ‘King Creole’ songs. The original LP was a landmark statement and with the improved audio - and the songs all in true context - there is plenty to revel in on this classic FTD.
Review by Piers Beagley
-Copyright EIN, January 2008
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'50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can't Be Wrong' Special Edition 2 CD SET - LPM-2075
- FTD 2007 Jan release #8869703615-2
CD 1 - LP Masters:
1: I Need Your Love Tonight
3: Wear My Ring Around Your Neck
4: My Wish Came True
5: I Got Stung
6: One Night
7: A Big Hunk O' Love
8: I Beg Of You
9: A Fool Such As I
10: Doncha' Think It's Time [LP version]
- Bonus Masters
11: Your Cheatin' Heart
12: Ain't That Loving You, Baby
13: Doncha' Think It's Time [Single master]
- February '58 Session:
14: Wear My Ring Around Your Neck (Undubbed)
15: Your Cheatin' Heart (9)
16: Doncha' Think It's Time (39*)
17: Doncha' Think It's Time (40*)
18: Doncha' Think It's Time (47*)
19: Doncha' Think It's Time (48)
- June '58 Sessions:
20: A Big Hunk O' Love (1)
21: A Big Hunk O' Love (2)
22: A Big Hunk O' Love (3)
23: A Big Hunk O' Love (4)
24: Ain't That Loving You Baby (1)
25: Ain't That Loving You Baby (2*)
26: Ain't That Loving You Baby (3*)
27: Ain't That Loving You Baby (4)
28: Ain't That Loving You Baby (5)
29: Ain't That Loving You Baby (6*)
30: Ain't That Loving You Baby (7*)
31: Ain't That Loving You Baby (8)
32: Ain't That Loving You Baby (9*)
33: Ain't That Loving You Baby (10*)
34: Ain't That Loving You Baby (11)
June '58 Sessions:
1: I Need Your Love Tonight (1*) [Starts with part of demo]
2: I Need Your Love Tonight (2)
3: I Need Your Love Tonight (3*)
4: I Need Your Love Tonight (4)
5: I Need Your Love Tonight (5)
6: I Need Your Love Tonight (6*)
7: I Need Your Love Tonight (7)
8: I Need Your Love Tonight (8*)
9: I Need Your Love Tonight (9)
10: I Need Your Love Tonight (10a)
11: I Need Your Love Tonight (10B*)
12: I Need Your Love Tonight (11*)
13: I Need Your Love Tonight (12)
14: I Need Your Love Tonight (13)
15: I Need Your Love Tonight (14*)
16: I Need Your Love Tonight (15*)
17: I Need Your Love Tonight (16*)
18: I Need Your Love Tonight (17*)
19: I Need Your Love Tonight (18)
20: A Fool Such As I (1*)
21: A Fool Such As I (2*)
22: A Fool Such As I (3)
23: A Fool Such As I (4)
24: A Fool Such As I (5)
25: A Fool Such As I (6*)
26: A Fool Such As I (7*)
27: A Fool Such As I (8)
28: A Fool Such As I (9)
29: I Got Stung (1)
30: I Got Stung (2*)
31: I Got Stung (3*)
32: I Got Stung (4)
33: I Got Stung (5)
34: I Got Stung (6)
35: I Got Stung (7)
36: I Got Stung (8)
37: I Got Stung (9*)
38: I Got Stung (10*)
39: I Got Stung (11*)
40: I Got Stung (12)
41: I Got Stung (13)
42: I Got Stung (14)
43: I Got Stung (15*)
44: I Got Stung (16)
45: I Got Stung (17*)
46: I Got Stung (18*)
47: I Got Stung (20*)
48: I Got Stung (21*)
49: I Got Stung (22*)
50: I Got Stung (23*)
51: I Got Stung (24)
- Elvis Sails EP:
52: Press Interview (Brooklyn Army Terminal)
53: Elvis Presley Newsreel Interview
54: Pat Hernon Interviews Elvis In The U.S.S. Randall
(* = Previously Unreleased)